My Creative Rights: What is it and how will it help creators?

Copyright Licensing New Zealand (CLNZ) has launched a new service that allows users to store their work, contracts and related documents, as well as access personalised rights information and legal advice. The Sapling explains MyCreativeRights and CLNZ chief executive Sam Irvine answers our questions about the platform.

Copyright Licensing New Zealand (CLNZ) has developed a service that will assist writers and artists in understanding their rights in relation to copyright, and help them legally protect their creative work. A CLNZ survey found that only 12% of creatives were confident they knew their copyright rights, and so MyCreativeRights was born to fill this knowledge gap and provide protection for creators.

In New Zealand, copyright is automatically applied to a work as soon as it is created, without the artist or writer having to apply or register or do anything at all. The CLNZ website talks through the basics of copyright as it applies to creators in Aotearoa; what MyCreativeRights does is provide a cloud-based platform “to document, safely preserve, and maximise the value of their creative works through access to copyright knowledge and legal advice.” Record keeping is an essential part of providing evidence in the case of copyright breach, to prove that one has ownership and creative rights for a specific piece of work.

Screenshot from MyCreativeRights homepage

Sam Irvine, chief executive of CLNZ, said, “We realised people didn’t know how to find out about their rights, and the majority of participants found the subject overwhelming, due to both the structure, language and volume of information, leading them to give up on exploring the topic further.”

The issue is not only that writers’ and artists’ intellectual property has been exploited unlawfully, but that artistic integrity and creators’ rights to make a living from their creative work are on the line.

Sam Irvine, CLNZ chief executive

With the increasing prevalence of easily accessible artificial intelligence (AI) tools, CLNZ highlights the issue of work being exploited by AI companies. Irvine says, “The variety of lawsuits that have cropped up recently between creators and generative AI companies show that, in all cases, permission hasn’t been asked or granted. The issue is not only that writers’ and artists’ intellectual property has been exploited unlawfully, but that artistic integrity and creators’ rights to make a living from their creative work are on the line. So MyCreativeRights is a solution that educates artists and writers and also handles the administrative side of managing their copyright, freeing up more of their time to create.”

Screenshot showing example of projects uploaded in the MyCreativeRights Catalogue

MyCreativeRights uses a Catalogue function where creators can store records of their work, contracts and related documents. The platform allows creators to manage timelines (e.g. flagging rights reversion dates), offers ongoing supporting information, and provides access to legal assistance. For a limited time, there are free 15-minute consultations with a legal advisor available, as well as access to longer consultations (subsidised by Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage).

Jenny Nagle, chief executive of the New Zealand Society of Authors (NZSA) is positive about this new offering: “The Legal Service gives Aotearoa New Zealand writers confidence to sign with publishers to licence their work, while the new rights management system, Catalogue, empowers writers to lodge contracts for all their titles in a secure account that provides a one-stop-system to manage publishing agreements, keep records of royalties and assignment of global licences, and take ownership of their intellectual property and writing careers.”

All three tiers include receiving “personalised rights information based on your creative work”.

There are three subscription plans a creator can choose from once they’ve signed up. The Starter plan is free, allowing the user to add up to three creative works (up to 20MB each) under one project to their Catalogue. The Basic plan is NZD $10 per month (or $100 per year), allowing the user to store up to 10 projects with 15GB of file storage space, and the Unlimited plan is $35 per month (or $350 per year), allowing unlimited projects and unlimited storage space. All three tiers include receiving “personalised rights information based on your creative work”.

So what does this mean for Aotearoa’s writers and illustrators? The Sapling posed a few questions to Sam Irvine to find out.

Sam Irvine, CLNZ chief executive [Photo supplied]

Who can use MyCreativeRights?

It’s a service for any writer, author or illustrator in Aotearoa New Zealand. It also supports those working in the visual arts field. 

CLNZ also has something called MyCopyright. Briefly, what is that, how is it different, and who is it for?

MyCopyright is the portal we have for rightsholders, so authors, writers and publishers, to securely manage their copyright fee transactions with CLNZ. Whereas MyCreativeRights is a platform to help creators store a record of their work, manage their contracts and get access to free* and subsidised legal advice. 

*Legal consults are subsidised by Manatū Taonga, Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

What are NZ creators’ most common concerns about copyright, and are these concerns justified?

That it’s complicated, difficult and expensive to manage copyright. And also that the time it takes to keep on top of the administration is time they would rather spend creating. Of course all these things can be true. So MyCreativeRights gives creators the tools to make the process of managing copyright simple and affordable.

How does MyCreativeRights provide protection that is more useful than, for example, authors having dated documents saved either on their computer or on other cloud-based platforms?

Good question. Our research found authors often weren’t backing up their documents and it was not uncommon to only have a single copy saved on a hard drive.  So MyCreativeRights was developed to provide a safe and affordable way to secure important documentation related to their work. It also provides contextual information about what a creator needs to have in that agreement and ensures that the creator is notified when part or all of the agreement needs renegotiating.

The MyCreativeRights website states that one of the Legal Service features is: “Enhance negotiation and licensing opportunities.” Could you explain how that might apply to children’s book creators?

Any creator of a literary work needs to ensure they have agreements with any of the contributors to that work e.g. the illustrator; so that they are able to exercise their rights to sell or license that work with their permission. This sort of documentation is crucial if children’s book creators want to be able to further monetise their work through opportunities like rights sales or other licensing opportunities.

Does MyCreativeRights provide support (for New Zealand creators) with copyright issues outside of New Zealand?

Yes absolutely—the legal service provides legal advice to any New Zealand creator and can advise on what to do in the case of a breach of copyright that has occurred in another jurisdiction.

Are there incidences in New Zealand for breaches of copyright in the children’s and YA literature space? Can you give any data?

Yes, there have been numerous cases although due to respect for the creators’ privacy we aren’t able to give you more information on those. We do know these cases have been very stressful and difficult for those involved. So anything we can do to help others avoid ending up in that type of situation is really important.

Should writers and illustrators in Aotearoa be concerned about the increased availability of AI tools in terms of protecting their intellectual property?

Yes, and CLNZ is working very hard to ensure that New Zealand will follow global initiatives to regulate the use of creators’ works in generative AI datasets.  

We already know that income is low for arts practitioners. We also appreciate that it costs money to store data in the cloud. Do you think paid subscriptions for increased storage are a barrier for people wanting to maximise their use of the MyCreativeRights platform?

Any cost is an issue, however for the cost of a cup of coffee a month, a creator can now safely store all the documentation they need to secure their creative rights. And that comes with the added bonus of educational prompts along the way and access to legal advice. So it’s a much more multifaceted offering, than just buying straight cloud storage.

How do you guarantee the security of the data uploaded to MyCreativeRights?

We regularly test the security of the system and also being in the cloud the creator has the added benefit of their data being stored by a reputable provider of cloud storage.

What do you think is the most important benefit of MyCreativeRights for children’s and YA creators?

Access to affordable (and even free) legal advice and storage of copyright related documentation.

See to sign up for a free account and load your first project.   Free 15-minute consultations with a legal advisor are available, along with access to longer legal consultations, both of which are heavily subsidised by Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage for a limited time.